<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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The March Advances to Mexico City Amidst Silence and Cheerfulness

Raúl Vera, Rius, Eduardo Gallo, Julian Lebarón, and Francisco Rebolledo Attend


By Jaime Luis Brito
La Jornada

May 6, 2011

The march for Peace and Justice finished its first twenty kilometers out of eighty on its way to Mexico City. In a trek that lasted from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. the demonstration was ended by preserving a moment of silence for the death of Father Rogelio Orozco Farías, “My spiritual example,” said a grieving Javier Sicilia, who suffered the passing away of the priest.

In the morning, the poet noted that the march was aimed at strengthening the institutions, not their destruction. He said that the authorities shouldn’t have any dubious pacts, if they’re not in the public eye. He also said that the soldiers should return to their barracks, but it can’t be done overnight, since it would leave the criminals at ease.


Bishop Raúl Vera joins poet and journalist Javier Sicilia as he begins the silent march to the Zócalo in Mexico city. Julián Lebarón accompanies them. Photo, DR 2011, Margarito Perez Retana, La Jornada
In what appeared to be a response to Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s message the day before, the writer said that the president’s strategy is not ideal, and that it has been proved a mistake, and therefore considered necessary for civil society as a whole to compel their representatives, “not politicians, because they are not a class,” to take into account the needs and demands of the people.

In front of hundreds of media representatives from Morelos, México and the world Javier Sicilia’s compañeros also spoke. Julián Lebarón, who has practically made this state of Morelos his home, Olga Sánchez, with her typical Chihuahua accent, and Bishop Raúl Vera López, who years ago was named the co-bishop with Samuel Ruiz in San Cristóbal de las Casas. He is now based in Saltillo, raising his voice as the discordant chorus of what (the late liberation theologian and bishop of Cuernavaca, Sergio) Méndez Arceo decades ago said was “The heart of México walking down this road,” he told this reporter. “With what Calderón said yesterday,” he tries to speak. “I already said that the heart of the country is here. They, the politicians, don’t know, don’t work, and don’t solve anything.”

After the march started, it walked slowly at first, under a cloudy sky that favored walking. Buses and a caravan of cars—some belonging to individuals, others to organizations, others to the Federal Roads and Bridges agency, and others to journalists—went from an organized march to dreadful chaos that for a few moments exasperated federal police and highway officials, who nevertheless tolerated the situation.

With pinpoint accuracy, the human convoy completed its first ten kilometers at midday. The cheerfulness in the group was high. It was good. It was felt. One woman was invited to talk with a reporter with Australian television. She smiled at first when she was told that “we are really reporters more than protesters,” and without delay she took the camera and made them write down what she said.

Then the question came, “How many people do you hope will arrive on Sunday?” The reporter didn’t doubt her when she responded in her poor English, “One hundred thousand.” The reporter’s mouth opened, “Really?” “Yes, we’re hoping for a hundred thousand,” One protester who had been introduced to the news crew interrupts, “And I hope it would be a hundred million.” The woman says, “I hope so, I hope so.”

On the first day it’s all uphill. The first twenty kilometers have been long up the slope, but it was also cloudy in the morning, for at 11 a.m. the sun unceremoniously dropped. Eduardo del Río, the political cartoonist and teacher of many generations, is in the march. With a banner in hand he eloquently says, “What we want is to stop this damn war. This war is being waged as an individual’s whim. Yesterday, the president was telling us he needs our help. But the ones we want to help are ourselves!”

Some kilometers forward, Eduardo Gallo, who lost his son to kidnappers, is literally laid out on the shoulder of the road. Javier Sicilia comments while laughing and eating a scrambled egg torta that he thought he would be the first one to get tired. Then he rejects an interview. “Don’t interview me. It’s best that we talk. All of you are very important to the movement. Your participation as press and media has been fundamental,” he says as he finishes the torta. At this hour of the day he’s already hungry.

Upon arriving at the crossroads of the highway to Cuautla, the marchers seem worn out, but don’t give up and move on to the Federal Roads and Bridges medical post, where there are bathrooms, water, and food for those that need it. The buses move on and the marchers remain, nobody uses them. They only talk. They share with one another. That is what is needed so much, a dialogue among equals.

The lines for the bathroom are long. Gerardo Gómez with the health commission in the march says that there are no incidents to report. Nacho Suárez Huape, hardened Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) party member and critic of the PRD says “Happy.” The question was simple, “How are you Nacho?” And why not? He has spent half of the day moving with the march, he moves forward and there seems to be no stopping him. Meanwhile, Rocato comes and goes, he is coordinating and even has time to talk with Nacho while during the interchange he remembers something else to be done and walks away. His compañero with the white beard and long hair just looks to the horizon like he’s thinking that maybe something else is pending.

The river of people is observed by Institutional Revolutionary Party councilwoman Vera Sisniega, the writer Francisco Rebolledo, family members of the victims of the ABC daycare fire, and a group of indigenous people from the Sociedad Civil Las Abejas, who lost fifty of their members at the hands of paramilitaries at the massacre of Acteal. There’s also the independent ombudsman José Martínez Cruz… Finally, César Cruz, ex-mayor of Temixco, joins the march. Carlos Sotelo, PRD senator and president of the telecommunications commission in the Senate, adds one more to the march.

Food prepared by residents of Tepoztlán caught up with the march at the balcony that is right before La Pera. The Radio Chinelo van is broadcasting radio amid it all. It moves on and fulfills its mission, becoming an efficient and central transmission of the voices at the march. Without realizing it well, this group of young people has become the key driver of a mass communication instrument that does not lose its popular essence. That is why eighty or ninety young people listened, they listened to it while they were playing. Because besides they were having fun.

Arriving at Coajomulco

And so the march crossed La Pera, and continued uphill. Upon arriving to the community they are received by a traditional ceremony and different expressions in solidarity with the cause against violence in the country. Some are demonstrators and some belong to the same gaggle of reporters.

The poet Javier Sicilia leads the demonstration to the center of the community where there are diverse signs and posters claiming to fight to put an end to the violence in the country. Throughout the day there were no reported incidents within the protest, which was protected, paradoxically, by federal police and vehicles from the Federal Roads and Bridges agency to ensure the safety of demonstrators.

It is almost the end of the first of four days of the march that will move its way to the country’s capital, where there will be a rally. Rather than slogans being shouted, a citizens’ pact for peace will be announced.

Then begins a kind of press conference that ends in a forum of reconciliation of the struggles. In the midst of that the news arrives: Father Orozco has died. Javier is dismayed and advises that Rogelio Orozco, “Father Orozcopo” as he was fondly called, had been “my spiritual example.” He dedicates a minute of silence and then makes the sign of the cross over his head with his hands. One reporter knew the priest well, “The last time I saw him alive was April 1. He accompanied Javier to a press conference.” The oxygen tank that Orozco had with him everywhere and his wheel chair never stopped him from supporting the writer Javier Sicilia and he was thought to be coming to the Zócalo in Mexico City.

“This Sunday Father, we will be there and so will you. Because if you had not walked the Earth, then many would not be walking in your steps,” Sicilia said in mourning, that amidst the cheerfulness of the march and the hope it is generating, he felt very lonely to know the news. OK.

Translated by Narco News.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America